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Federal infrastructure funding could help address water system woes in Jackson
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The EPA Administrator recently toured the O.B. Curtis water treatment plant in Jackson. This facility faced disruptions during the winter storm in February.
Kobee Vance, MPB News

Officials in Jackson are hopeful the city will receive substantial funding towards repairing and updating water infrastructure. The state will soon receive nearly $75,000,000 from the EPA as part of the national bipartisan infrastructure bill.

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The City of Jackson’s aging water infrastructure is in need of major upgrades according to city officials, and new federal funding could help the city address decades-old problems. Last week, the EPA sent a letter to Governor Tate Reeves outlining how this funding should be spent, and Assistant Administrator Radhika Fox says the state will be able to distribute these funds as forgivable loans to local governments.

Fox says “For communities like Jackson Mississippi that have historically struggled to access state revolving loan fund dollars, this really kind of opens the door for disadvantaged communities.”

The EPA Administrator recently visited Jackson on a tour of under-served southern cities. City Engineer Charles Williams says the visit helped the agency understand the challenges facing the city and its residents.

“Well overall we want to be in compliance,” says Williams. “That’s with the safe drinking water act and also with the clean water act. And so any time that we can make improvements that will minimize the disruptions to our citizens as it relates to having safe drinking water, that’s where we want to put our money.”

Most residents who face water disruptions in the city of Jackson are people of color. Mayor Chokewe Antar Lumumba believes this funding will help address environmental justice across the city.

“I think that the state is keenly aware of the city’s needs,” says Lumumba. “The efforts of the federal government to send resources is once in a lifetime. And hopefully we recognize the potential human rights violation of not supporting a city like Jackson and its needs.”

Final decisions on how this funding will be distributed to cities across the state will be made by the state legislature.